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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,7802702,206 (4.14)320
History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ‚?Ę From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania
‚??Both terrifying and enthralling.‚?Ě‚??Entertainment Weekly
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‚??Thrilling, dramatic and powerful.‚?Ě‚??NPR
‚??Thoroughly engrossing.‚?Ě‚??George R.R. Martin

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era‚??s great transatlantic ‚??Greyhounds‚?Ě‚??the fastest liner then in service‚??and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger‚??s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small‚??hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more‚??all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don‚??t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
Finalist for the Washington State Book Award ‚?Ę One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miami Herald, Li… (more)
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» See also 320 mentions

English (267)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (269)
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
This is the story of a ship being torpedoed, but more than that it's the story of how the US got into world war one. It's not quite the gruesome tale of the Wager, but it's still a tragedy of massive loss of life that could have been avoided with more foresight and precautions. There's a lot more politics and less adventure in this than other shipwreck stories, but it's still an informative and fascinating read. ( )
  KallieGrace | Aug 21, 2023 |
Larson’s narrative style applied to the sinking of the Lusitania and how it brought America into WWI. Loved it. Always love Larson’s stuff. He’s on auto-buy for forever.
( )
  lyrrael | Aug 3, 2023 |
We've all heard about conspiracy theories where governments have deliberately mis lead their people in order to drive then into states of war. Erik Larson's Dead Wake is an excellent example of this phenomenon. The book itself is awesome but there is a paragraph on page 323 that says all that needs to be said

"Nor did the inquiry ever delve into why the Lusitania wasn't diverted to the safer North Channel route, and why no naval escort was provided. Indeed these are the great lingering question of the Lustania affair: Why, given all the information possessed by the Admiralty about U-20; given the Admiralty's past willingness to provide escorts to inbound ships or divert them away from trouble, given that the ship carried a vital cargo of rifle ammunition and artillery shells; given that Room 40's intelligence prompted the obsessive tracking and protection of the HMS Orion; given that U-20 has sunk three vessels in the Lustania's path; given Cusnard chairman Booth's panicked Friday morning visit to the navy's Queenstown office; given that the new and safer North Channel route was available; and given that passengers and crew alone had expected to be convoyed to Liverpool by the Royal Navy-- the question remains, why was the ship left on its own, with the proven killer of men and ships dead ahead in its path ?" ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
I really enjoyed this. Erik Larson laid out the events surrounding the Sinking of the Lusitania in a way that reads like a novel. It's informative and quite engaging. I learned all about passenger liners, The British Navy, German submarines, Woodrow Wilson, and tons of events leading up to the American involvement of WWI. I will certainly be reading more Erik Larson. His style of writing is very enjoyable, it carries a lot of tension. ( )
  Andjhostet | Jul 4, 2023 |
An excellent history of the sinking of the Lusitania. The description of the act itself and its consequences are riveting. The introductory material is less so; the author finds President Wilson's love letters more interesting than I do. The subsequent attacks on Captain Turner interested me. They are completely analogous to the hoary description of the third stage of a project (the stages are: euphoria, disillusionment, persecution of the innocent and adulation for the uninvolved). I have, like so many, sadly fallen into this category myself, although admittedly in less disastrous circumstances. Churchill, great man though he undoubtedly was, is shown here as the weasel that he could be. I recommend reading the notes, even if after you've finished the text, there are some entertaining stories there. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 267 (next | show all)
If creating ‚Äúan experience‚ÄĚ is Larson‚Äôs primary goal, then ‚ÄúDead Wake‚ÄĚ largely succeeds. There are brisk cameos by Churchill and Woodrow Wilson, desperate flurries of wireless messages and telegrams, quick flashes to London and Berlin. These passages have a crackling, propulsive energy that most other books about the Lusitania ‚ÄĒ often written for disaster buffs or steampunk aficionados ‚ÄĒ sorely lack.
added by amarie | editThe New York Times, Hampton Sides (pay site) (Mar 5, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Erik Larsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bouffartigue, Paul-SimonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
The Captains are to remember that, whilst they are expected to use every diligence to secure a speedy voyage, they must run no risk which by any possibility might result in accident to their ships. They will ever bear in mind that the safety of the lives and property entrusted to their care is the ruling principle which should govern them in the navigation of their ships, and no supposed gain in expedition, or saving of time on the voyage, is to be purchased at the risk of accident.

"Rules to Be Observed in the Company's Service,"
The Cunard Steam-Ship Company Limited, March 1913
The first consideration is the safety of the U-boat.

ADM. REINHARD SCHEER
Germany's High Sea Fleet in the World War, 1919
Dedication
For Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin
(and Molly and Ralphie, absent, but not forgotten)
First words
On the night of May 6, 1915, as his ship approached the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings.
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History. Military. Nonfiction. HTML:#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER ‚?Ę From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania
‚??Both terrifying and enthralling.‚?Ě‚??Entertainment Weekly
‚??Thrilling, dramatic and powerful.‚?Ě‚??NPR
‚??Thoroughly engrossing.‚?Ě‚??George R.R. Martin

On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era‚??s great transatlantic ‚??Greyhounds‚?Ě‚??the fastest liner then in service‚??and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. 
Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger‚??s U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small‚??hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more‚??all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.
It is a story that many of us think we know but don‚??t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour and suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope to President Woodrow Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. 
Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history.
Finalist for the Washington State Book Award ‚?Ę One of the Best Books of the Year: The Washington Post, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miami Herald, Li

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